Kroger & Microsoft Change The Future Of Grocery Shopping With New Tech
There's no denying it's an exciting time for grocery stores. In November, John Mackey, Whole Foods Market CEO, told us on the mbgpodcast why he believes the future of grocery is tech-driven and consumer-oriented. He told us consumers know what they want, when they want it, and have a million options to choose from. So how are grocers going to stand out and make their products and experience appealing to consumers looking for an easier shopping experience?
Kroger, the second largest supermarket chain in the U.S. with 2,800 stores (including supermarket chains like Ralphs, Harris Teeter, and Foods Co.) across 35 states and Washington D.C., has joined forces with Microsoft and developed a technology that could transform the grocery shopping experience.
The new technology, created with Microsoft's cloud-computing service Azure, is built into a digital shelf display called EDGE Shelf (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment) that provides prices, nutritional information, guided shopping, and coupons. When used with the accompanying app, shoppers will get personalized icon pop-ups (think, emojis) as they peruse the various aisles indicating an item on your shopping list. Also with your shopping list uploaded in the app, each time you scan an item and put it in your cart, you'll be told where to find the next item on your list.
And maybe more importantly, people will be able to scan their chosen items onto their smartphone instead of waiting in line to check out. If you don’t have a smartphone, no need to worry, Kroger will also offer their own scanning devices.
“Together, we will redefine the shopping experience for millions of customers at both Kroger and other retailers around the world, setting a new standard for innovation in the industry," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, in a statement.
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the ingredients in their food as well as opting for locally and ethically sourced food, and Kroger gets that. If you have dietary restrictions, this app will be your best friend as it directs your shopping experience based on what work for your dietary needs.
The consumer isn't the only one who benefits from this technology. This data will help Kroger track which products need to be restocked, and eventually, it'll help activate promotions for price reductions, keeping them a step ahead of their competitors.
It'll also help Kroger employees track down products as they get Ship orders ready to go (Kroger's direct to consumer e-commerce platform), and with more customers interested in curbside grocery delivery, cutting down on time and streamlining a process will be critical.
After hearing about this, all we can think about is "when is this coming to a grocery store near me?" The answer is potentially very soon. Already the technology is being tested in two stores as part of a pilot program and has been put in 100 Kroger stores at the end of the aisles, and yesterday, Kroger and Microsoft announced they are marketing the technology to retailers worldwide. Here's to a better grocery shopping experience in the new year!
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